By MARK EVANS
Those eagerly expecting American Relief and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) checks from Ste. Genevieve County may be in for a wait.
The Ste. Genevieve County Commission is being cautious in how it doles out the ARRA, as it was with the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding a year ago.
“I want people to understand it’s not our money,” Presiding Commissioner Garry Nelson said during last Thursday’s commission meeting. “It’s the federal government’s money. They give us criteria on how it can be spent, like they did with the CARES money. We can’t just write a check.”
Actually, the guidance given has been vague and contradictory, frustrating the commissioners and keeping them cautious.
The county proceeded with extreme care in dispensing the $2.9 million in CARES money and still have been audited three times, with a fourth one just popping up last week. So far, no findings have been made against the county for is disbursal of the funds.
The commissioners and associate county clerk Michele Gatzemeyer checked each disbursement with Ivan Schraeder, the attorney the county uses for such matters.
“Thank goodness we did our due diligence on the front end,” Gatzemeyer said.
Other counties have not been so fortunate. Any funds given out that are found to not be in compliance with the often-vague guidelines can lead to the county having to pay the money back.
“We’re not going to jump the gun until we’re 100 percent confident,” Nelson said. “We don’t make the decisions with out Ivan Schraeder’s OK.”
WRIGHT PRAISES RICK FRANCIS
District 116 State Representative Dale Wright spoke by phone with the commissioners. He said redistricting may cause him to lose Ste. Genevieve County.
While decisions will not be reached for a month or longer, Wright said it appears that he may lose Ste. Genevieve County from his legislative district. It would most likely be grafted onto District 145 Representative Rick Francis’ district, which includes Perry County.
Wright, from Farmington, represents part of St. Francois County and most of Ste. Genevieve County. A sliver of the northern edge of the country is in District 115 Representative Cyndi Buchheit-Courtway’s district.
The districts are redrawn every 10 years following the decennial census, usually amid accusations of political gerrymandering.
Wright said he would hate to lose Ste. Genevieve County, but praised Francis, a Perryville Republican, who grew up in Grassy, Mo., and graduated in 1976 from Woodland High School. Like State Senator Elaine Gannon, he spent more than 30 years as an educator.
Wright said Francis “is highly respected” in the state house and that he could probably do more for the county than he could.
The commissioners praised Wright for his work with them since his election in 2018.